ST. GEORGE — Growing up with a famous father for Dayne Nourse wasn’t much different than some Utah residents might remember.

Debi and Dayne Nourse talk about an upcoming risky surgery at their home in St. George, Utah, Feb. 1, 2024 | Photo by Haven Scott, St. George News

At night it was dinner and homework, watching the local news at 10 p.m. on the only television in the house — then “M-A-S-H.” Only his father was never present while he watched the telecast with his family. Because he was in the news studio.

Dayne, son of the late KSL anchorman Dick Nourse, is traveling to California soon for a surgery he hopes will save his life.

Once a proud member of the Dixie High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, Dayne, now 27, has battled brittle bone disease since birth. He graduated from Dixie High in 2015 and first noticed severe mobility issues when showering several months ago. 

Doctors told Dayne that his spinal column is pushing dangerously close to his brain, his mother Debi Nourse said.

Known as Chiari malformation, the cerebellum part of Dayne’s brain at the back of the skull is bulging through the opening where it joins the spinal canal.

Dick, Debi and Dayne Nourse at the 2015 Dixie High School graduation in St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy Debi Nourse, St. George News

The operation to correct it is risky but could ultimately save his life, Debi said. After the first procedure, doctors in Salt Lake City said further procedures were too risky.

St. George physicians Dr. Jotham Manwaring and Dr. Karl Torgerson recommended she try a Stanford Medical physician who had developed a new tactic.

Debi and Dayne were soon meeting with Dr. Juan Fernandez-Miranda, a professor of neurosurgery and surgical director of the Stanford Brain Tumor, Skull Base and Pituitary Centers.

According to Fernandez-Miranda’s bio on the hospital’s website, he has performed almost 3,000 cranial operations, 1,500 endoscopic endonasal operations for pituitary tumors and other skull base lesions.

“He is highly regarded for his innovative contributions to the development and refinement of endoscopic endonasal skull base surgery for his ability to select the most effective and less invasive approach to each individual patient,” the biography states.

Debi and Dayne said they are hopeful after their first meeting with Fernandez-Miranda.

“He’s very confident in his skills, but it’s still dangerous,” Debi said. “Because you’re going near the brain, you’re removing bone that is near the brain stem.”

Since he’s been through multiple surgeries and spent much time in hospitals throughout his lifetime, there is no fear of the operation, Dayne said. Instead, he worries about the success of the procedure.

Dayne and Dick Nourse at a Dixie High School Air Force junior ROTC event in St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy Debi Nourse, St. George News

“I keep thinking something bad could go wrong,” he said. “And there goes my life or my chance of feeling better.

Senior Master Sgt. Gerald Thomas said Dayne’s thought process during the time he was under his instruction as a cadet at Dixie High School was “as if he was not wheelchair bound.”

“He was always upbeat and wore his uniform with pride,” Thomas said. “He was very encouraging to other cadets and was the tip of the spear for our CyberPatriot team. We finished second in the state of Utah to the national champion. Dayne’s energy and commitment was second to none.”

Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Robinson said Nourse earned many medals and ribbons during his time in Dixie Air Force junior ROTC, for good conduct, cybersecurity, special teams, longevity, service and even best dressed.

“I remember him making a great effort to wear the required JROTC uniform on uniform days,” Robinson said. “He looked exceptional during our promotion and national awards ceremony. He even earned the dress and appearance ribbon.”

Robinson added area residents may remember Dayne from previous parades, as he enjoyed presenting with the school’s color guard.

“He gave much in the way of community service by participating in parades, helping with flag ceremonies, helping manage our obstacle course challenge and participating in an international taste-testing event,” Robinson said. “The latter was where cadets catered for the guests who were trying new, foreign foods. Dayne wasn’t afraid to try anything.”

KSL anchorman Dick Nourse poses during a break at KSL studios in Salt Lake City, Utah, April 23, 2004 | Photo courtesy KSL TV, St. George News

When asked about having a television news reporter for a father, Dayne recalled begging his mom most nights to stay up and watch his father deliver the news.

Debi said the kids knew exactly what time their father would be home.

“He was home at 11:06 every night,” she said. We lived in Bountiful at the time and it took him that long to drive home after the news.”

Known for his professionalism, her husband would come home from work to “decompress” after nights when something terrible happened on the newscast, she said.

And much like emergency responders and police officers, Dick learned to hide his emotions well.

“He took it all to heart and acted like a toughy,” Debi said. “But he was not.”

One of Dayne’s best memories of his father was the day he retired after four decades on the air and the Hollywood-like party.

“We were brought there by a limo and they had this big red carpet,” he said. “I thought that was pretty cool. And you had all these people lining up and taking pictures.”

After twice beating cancer, Dick died during his third bout in St. George last year. A veteran of the military himself, Debi said three generations of Nourses proudly wore United States military uniforms.

The trips to the hospital continue as the Nourses travel to California for Dayne’s operation scheduled for later in February. Family members have set up a fundraiser at this link for those wishing to contribute to the family’s medical expenses.

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